Birmingham Monarchs began the Midland League season with a win away at Wednesfield Dragons but it was a close encounter which was only decided within the last couple of heats.
The Monarchs welcomed back Carl Winwood and Andy James as the pair look to ride more regularly for the Perry Barr based side. Mark Winwood was also back as David Ball came in as a guest as Scott Millward was unavailable.
From the first heat the pairing of Groves and Ball gave Monarchs a 7-3 lead but the Dragons claimed a 6-4 for themselves which was then followed by a shared heat as Mark Griffiths took the honours ahead of the Monarch pair of Mark Winwood and Andy James.
Heat four saw Nathan Groves excluded for moving at the tapes and the re-run saw a 7-2 to the Dragons and they took a 21-18 lead. Heats five to seven saw the honours shared with 5-5 heats as the results and racing showed how close this early season fixture was. Heat eight saw controversy as Troy Allen took a tumble on the home straight whilst dicing with David Ball. The referee called a halt to the race but Allen was unable to take part in the re-run as the Wednesfield rider broke his wrist.
Carl Winwood rolled back the years in heat nine and took the win for yet another share of the spoils as going into the interval Wednesfield held a slender two point lead.
Heat ten saw Marcus Wadhams claim his second win of the afternoon as the Dragons filled in the minor places for another 5-5 heat, but then Birmingham got two 6-4’s on the bounce as once more Wadhams took the flag as well as Mark Winwood to give the Monarchs a 60-58 lead. Mark Griffiths and Harry Everiss then got a 6-4 back to level the scores after 13 heats 64-64.
Heat fourteen saw Birmingham take maximum points with a 7-2 as Winwood and Ball denied Connor Dyke of getting inbetween to give a slender five point lead. Heat sixteen saw Groves and Wadhams take a 7-3 and then make sure that the Monarchs would begin the season with a win.
Wednesfield Dragons 86 Jordan 15, C. Aris 5, H. Rowley 17, T. Allen 2, H. Everiss 10, M. Griffiths 17, C. Dyke 11, M. Aris 9
Birmingham Monarchs 91 N. Groves 13, R. Stevenson 2, C. Winwood 13, M. Wadhams 16, M. Winwood 18, A. James 9, S. Hodgkinson 6, D. Ball 14
Birmingham’s second team had a challenge fixture with Wednesfield. The Monarchs gave an outing for Billy Winwood as well as Emily Pitt who has been impressive in training. There was some great racing in the meeting with Pitt picking up a win. Billy Winwood took a tumble in heat seven but after a little time to recover got straight back on the bike and carried on in the fixture.
Richard Stevenson suffered a puncture in his first ride but in his final race the Birmingham rider kept winding up going out wide and making a long straight and on the line claimed a fine second place.
Wednesfield 70 D. Brooks 15, A. Tipton 6, W. Aris 12, L. Rowley 8, C. Jones 9, J. Burt 4, C. Aris 16
Birmingham 50 N. Timms 11, B. Winwood 6, Re. Winwood 12, R. Stevenson 5, E. Pitt 11, Ry. Winwood 8, S. Hodgkinson 7
The next fixture for Birmingham is a home Division Three meeting as Wednesfield Aces travel to Perry Barr Playing Fields on 10th April with a 18:30 start.